Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Cleared: Midnight Chronicles

Netflix added Midnight Chronicles at some point, which saved me from buying it on RPGnow.com. I might still, though - it's part of a good bundle pack. Anyway, Midnight Chronicles is set in Fantasy Flight Games' Midnight universe, which is probably about the bleakest fantasy setting ever made. Imagine, if you will, what Middle Earth would have looked like if Sauron had won and then had a century to consolidate his power and you have some idea of what the Midnight setting looks like. Anyway, it's in this cheery place that Midnight Chronicles is set. Interestingly, this is obviously supposed to be the first in a series, and it only released in 2010, so there may be sequels coming - I hope so, for the sake of the very unfinished plot. The movie ends on a complete cliffhanger. All in all, the movie did surprisingly well for a) being very low-budget and b) consequently having no known talent whatsoever. The acting was serviceable, the plot was appropriate to the setting, and it was light years ahead of the terrible D&D movie. It still wasn't great, however. Directing and plotting could both have been tighter, and the film wasted a number of opportunities to show the nature of the setting to its fullest, but it still had a certain hard-to-pin-down charm. Unlike other movies based off of fantasy RPGs, this one wasn't campy, mocking, and/or exploitative, it was just a little slow-moving. That by itself makes it something special. It treated its subject material like something worth spending effort on, and that was great to see. I realize that this is sort of damning with faint praise, but this isn't the sort of thing I can recommend to everybody. However, if you're a die-hard gamer and want to see a movie based on an RPG setting that gives you some hope for the future of RPG movies, this is definitely one to see.

RPG notes: Well, considering that entire movie is based on an RPG setting, I suppose it's its own RPG notes on some level. But that's a cop-out. The one bit that I really did like was that the legate that much of the story revolves around seems to be some sort of destined hero. This is kind of an interesting problem, considering that he's on the bad guy's side. And that concept, all by itself, should be enough to get any GM worth their salt thinking. When the person you need to defeat the Big Bad is a loyal servant of said Big Bad, then what?

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